News

Court strikes down libel sentence in ‘Imedi’ case

by | Jan 21, 2014
Giorgi Vashadze

National Movement MP Giorgi Vashadze did not break the law when he called Joseph Kay a fraud, the court ruled, but the case continues. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court struck down a previous court ruling to fine Member of Parliament Giorgi Vashadze for libel against the businessman Joseph Kay.

Kay is the investor who for a few months owned Imedi, a formerly government-critical TV station that played an important role in the anti-Saakashvili revolt in the summer of 2007.

After Imedi’s owner, businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, suddenly died in 2008, Kay successfully took it into his ownership, and then relinquished control to other owners connected to Saakashvili.

Imedi’s programming went through a gradual change from government-critical in 2007, to unabashed pro-Saakashvili in 2010, when shortly before the local elections, it broadcast a fake news show that tricked viewers into believing there was another Russian invasion, in which Saakashvili’s most vocal opponents were collaborating with the enemy.

Vashadze, who is from the National Movement party, February 24, 2013, called Joseph Kay ‘a fraud’, after the Georgian Dream government published part of a testimony Kay had made, in which he claimed that the Saakashvili government forced him to let go of his shares in Imedi.

Kay sued Vashadze for defamation.

In December, a court fined Vashadze 50 000 lari (USD 30 000) in absentia. The MP’s lawyer appealed the court’s decision, claiming that the defense wasn’t able to come to court due to health.

On Monday, the court published a statement saying it had annulled a previous ruling because it considered the lawyers’ reason acceptable.

The trial will now go on, but the date of the next hearing is not known.



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